The Trainings Done!

FlagMountainThe training’s done, if I’m not fit enough now I never will be.

The next hill I climb will be 7,353 kms away in the Himalayan mountain range.

THE. HIMALAYAN. MOUNTAINS!!

When I booked the trip last June it all seemed so far away, it was easy to talk about the preparations I’d need to do, the training, buying the gear and making sure I was organized with injections and paperwork etc. The trek was almost a year away.

Now, the trek is 14 days away. I can’t get any fitter than I am, this is it, if I haven’t done enough training it’s too late to worry about it. I’ve bought all the gear and the incidentals, if I’ve forgotten anything, too bad. What will be, will be.

Now for the next hurdle – packing!

3 Weeks, 6 Days and 7 Hours …. but hey, who’s counting?

may 13thThat would be me actually. I have a new found obsession with the calendar, as if suddenly overnight I’m going to lose a few days. I know that tomorrow I’ll be one day closer to leaving than I am today, why do I need to keep checking?

For those of you who may have stumbled across this blog recently I’m heading for Kathmandu in, you guessed it, 3 weeks, 6 days and 7 hours, to begin a trek to Everest Base Camp. If you want to know why, it’s all explained up there at Everest Base Camp trek: Why. And if you go to the Challenge to the Girls page you’ll find out all about the fundraising I’m doing in the process.

After 10 months of preparing and training for this mad adventure I must admit to getting a little bit nervous and I’m starting to worry about my abilities in this high altitude environment. I know I’ve spoken to several people of my age who’ve done the trek and without exception they all managed it and recommend it. But then I hear of people younger than myself who’ve really struggled, both with their fitness and the altitude.

I know my fitness is up there after all the training, I don’t know how many other nearly 60 year olds would be able to do a 9.5km walk with a pack on 2 or 3 times a week, and I’m still climbing the steps occasionally, although it’s more about endurance now. There’s no way of training for altitude though and I guess that’s what’s niggling at me right now.

Other little niggles include but are not limited to:

  • Do I have enough sugary snacks to take  – need to keep my energy levels up during the trek?
  • What’s the best way to carry my camera and have it handy while I’m actually struggling up the track?
  • How many spare batteries and memory cards should I take for the camera?
  • Do I just use the boiled water provided every day by the treking company (World Expeditions) or do I get a steripen or sterilization tablets, or is that overkill?
  • Where is the queue for the visa at Kathmandu airport going to be? Silly question I know but I like to be prepared.
  • How many t-shirts will I need?
  • We’re having a ‘Black Tie’ dinner at Thyangboche to celebrate the actual 60th anniversary of Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest on 29th May 1953. What the hell do you wear to a ‘Black Tie’ dinner in a marquee outside a monastery, half way up a mountain, at 3,500 metres above sea level? Bearing in mind that the temperature is likely to be registering somewhere around the bottom of the thermometer during this event and we’ve got a strict weight limit on what we take up the mountain. Oh, and there’ll be VIPs there so a girl needs to look her best.
  • Do I buy lightweight underwear (of which I have one pair at the moment) or are knickers light enough anyway? I know you don’t need to know but I need to share.
  • And while I’m sharing, will I manage to pee standing up, with the help of my Go Girl FUD, without getting stage fright?

So much to think about.

Please, feel free to jump in here with answers or suggestions to any of the above questions, otherwise I’m going to have to figure it all out myself.

The calendar’s still saying 3 weeks, 6 days and 7 hours ……. Maybe next time I look it’ll have changed.

My Week That Was!

The last week certainly had its ups and downs – literally.

I hiked 35kms with my pack on, put a 3cm gash in my head that required 3 stitches and had a diagnosis of optical hypertension – beat that.

The early morning sun appears over the hills.

The early morning sun appears over the hills.

The hiking was a real high, 3 afternoons in a row after work I did a 9.5km hike with my pack on and then on the weekend a 6.2km hike that involved some quite steep inclines. It’s all about endurance. On one of the afternoons half of the 9.5kms involved the steps, going up them 10 times with the pack on, that was hard, but I keep chanting to myself – train hard, fight easy. Put in the hard work now and it will pay off later.

I was really pleased about the way I felt after those 3 days in a row – yes, it was tiring but I felt I coped well and am getting used to walking longer distances with the pack on. The altitude will be another matter though and there’s really nothing I can do to train for that.

The gash to the head could definitely be considered the low point of the week.  I slipped on something that had dripped onto the kitchen floor, my legs went from under me, I landed on my backside and my head flipped back and ricocheted off the corner of the wall. I sat there for a while with my hand on my head thinking gosh (or words to that effect) I’m going to have a serious bump there. It was when I took my hand away and found it covered in blood that I realized it was more than a bump.

Trip to the Emergency Department, 3 stitches, one sore head and 2 days off work.

The trip to the Opthamologist – I think I’ll consider that a positive seeing as it started out as a definite negative. On a recent visit to the optician he picked up that the pressure in my eyes was higher than it should be – a sure sign of Glaucoma – and referred me on to the Opthamologist. With a family history of Glaucoma it was highly likely that’s where I was headed. Damn!

The good news – it’s not Glaucoma, yet, but optical hypertension. Yes, the pressure is up slightly but there is no damage to the nerve and my peripheral vision is still fine. Just need to have regular checks at this point to keep an eye on things (pun really not intended).

Anyway, the point of all this is that with less than seven weeks to go before the trek I’m very mindful of how things can happen unexpectedly and interrupt plans. Natasha from Tiny Indian Girl Up a Mountain was supposed to be trekking to Base Camp as we speak but when last heard from she hadn’t even left the UK. She did get to the airport at Belfast on time but the horrendous weather that they have been experiencing meant that the airport was snowed in and flights cancelled. She went back home. She finally made it to Heathrow about 3 days late and hopefully she’s now winging her way towards Kathmandu.

After months of planning and training, to have plans disrupted like this, I can only imagine the feeling – I certainly don’t want to experience it.

Remember, you can support me and my efforts by donating to the ‘Because I’m a Girl Campaign.’ Just go to the Donate page up there on my header or read all about it on the Challenge for the girls page.

Countdown to Kathmandu – getting closer!

kathmandu

Where on earth did the second half of 2012 go?

All of you loyal followers who’ve been with me since I made my madcap decision, think back to my original Countdown to Kathmandu post. For those of you who may have inadvertantly stumbled upon my blog more recently (maybe even today) have a look and acquaint yourself with my upcoming trek to Everest Base Camp in May.

When I did that post there was 10 months and 1 week to go.

Cliche or not, time has flown, in a matter of hours we’ll be in 2013!

I was under the assumption that once Christmas and the New Year were out of the way I’d have just over 5 months to knuckle down, increase the training and get all the necessaries organised. You know, stuff like buying thermals, checking out the need for innoculations, trying to get my head around packing as little as possible while still taking everything I’ll need.

Somewhere between the accountancy course I took several years ago and now though my maths seems to have become a little unstable. If New Year is in January and the trek is in May it would seem that I only have 4 months not the 5 I was relying on.

So, that’s the thing, 4 months to go before I leap out of my comfort zone and where am I at?

030

Training – going well. I’m at the point that I can go up those steps 20 times, a couple of times a week and do a hike with pack on the weekend. I’m feeling pretty happy with myself and the intention is to pick up the pace in the final few months.

The training is on temporary hold this week though as the temperature is hovering around 40 – 42 degrees for most of the week. Would be a form of suicide to attempt anything out there at the moment.

Bells Rapids Trail waterfall

Gear – Of the main stuff I’ll need I’ve got the boots, the pack and the waterproof/windproof jacket and I’ve picked up a few bits when they were on sale during the last few months.

This week I’m hoping to buy the hiking poles at the sales and then I need to make a list of everything I still need to buy to make sure I’ve got all bases covered.

Thyangboche Monastery

Thyangboche Monastery

Research – When I do anything or go anywhere I like to get all the information I can. To this end I’ve been reading anything I can get my hands on about Everest and trekking to Base Camp. If anyone’s got any suggestions please let me know.

I’ve read some excellent biographies of mountaineers, including Sir Edmund Hillary and accounts from people who’ve spent time in Nepal and the Everest region.

Blogs have also been an great source of valuable information from people who have recently done the trek and are able to give me tips on what to take, what not to take, what to do and what not to do.

Because I am a Girl

Fund Raising – Raising money for the Because I’m a Girl Campaign is proving to be a very rewarding enterprise. People have been very generous and there have been donations from friends and family and from total strangers. This is a very worthwhile cause and you can read about it here.

There is still plenty of time to donate and help me reach my target before I leave for Nepal.

SO ….

4 months and 13 days to go!

Train hard, Fight easy.

No, I’m not training for the SAS, although at times I do begin to wonder.

I mentioned recently how well my training was going and hence (don’t you love that word) my decision to extend my trek and go as far as Everest Base Camp next year. My friends, the steps, are gradually succumbing to my constant attempts to defeat them but, each time I get comfortable with the number of times I’m climbing them, my slightly pushy training partner (AKA Yes sir Sergeant Major) decides it’s time to add on a couple more ups and downs. Would you believe we’re up to 14 – yes, 14 times up and 14 times down.

Steps, steps and more steps1

I’ve now also started doing regular weekend hikes, these were initially done with a small (very small) backpack but last weekend I figured it was time to delay no longer and do it with the PROPER daypack. You remember the one, made to fit us ladies, and how excited I was to be buying it.

Hiking with pack

The day pack & I – our first outing together

So, I put a few things into it, including a litre bottle of water (which is quite heavy in itself), and set off on my walk along the Bells Rapids Trail. Unfortunately the steepest part of this trail is at the beginning, before my legs have actually had time to realize what they are meant to be doing and, with the aforementioned training partner striding out on legs rather longer than mine, it’s a struggle to keep up. But, the whole Base Camp Trek thing is not a race, so as long as I get to where I’m going I’m happy.

I must say I coped very well with the larger pack, in fact, if anything, it was more comfortable than the small one. It didn’t feel cumbersome and the straps didn’t rub at all, from now on I’ll gradually be adding weight to it.

Bells Rapids Trail waterfall

Half way up the waterfall – not much water falling I’m afraid.

Not content with the track though we have also taken to climbing. The first week it was up a number of rocky outcrops to find a waterfall. We found it but there wasn’t a lot of water falling from it. We’ve also taken to scrambling up some large boulders for our mid hike break. I must say it’s worth it for the views.

Bells Rapids Trail

The view is worth the climb

Ultimately though all of this hard work will be worth it, I’d rather find it difficult now then when I get to the Himalayas. So, in the immortal words of the SAS I intend to TRAIN HARD, FIGHT EASY.

A Whole Heap of Steps and a Wandering Mind.

Ok, my boots and I have got past first base. We took our first walk together last weekend and we certainly bonded. We didn’t rub each other up the wrong way and we came back feeling very smug with ourselves, no one else we saw were half as compatible. We’ve decided we suit each other quite nicely and will enjoy our time together.

We’ve also discovered a couple of added bonuses to the training that we’re doing, at least I have.

You’ll remember that I’ve mentioned the coastal path that I take my walks on (well you will if you’ve been taking any notice of what I’ve been writing lately) anyway, I’ve found a better training track. This one is only a few minutes from home and I cannot believe that I’ve lived here for 7 years and haven’t found it before now. It’s an area of open bushland with a walking trail around and through it and the best bit, as far as I’m concerned, is that it has two sets of steps.

Going down – that’s the easy part.

There are over 120 steps that I need to go down and then back up. The first time I tried it I needed to stop twice on the way up, to catch my breath and explain to my thighs that they really will get to enjoy this and it’s doing them good. They didn’t seem convinced and in protest continued to complain for some minutes. The intention, though, is to get further each time before the complaining begins and eventually be able to go up and down a couple of times without needing to stop.

What goes down must go back up – including me!

The beauty of this discovery is that now I don’t have to get in the car and drive before I can walk, now I just step outside my front door and within a few minutes I’m surrounded by the peace and quiet of this wonderful bushland.

The second bonus is that all of this walking in such a serene and peaceful environment, with only the occasional dog and his walker as a distraction, allows the mind to wander. The stress of the working week gradually trickles away and my mind is able to let go and enjoy the freedom.

So my decision to go on this trek is already paying dividends, who knows what inspiration will flow from that released mind.